Thursday 26 April 2018

'If we have to wait until the New Year, so be it' - Tensions growing over Brexit at meeting between Varadkar and May

Leo Varadkar arrives for the EU Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg, Sweden November 17, 2017. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
Leo Varadkar arrives for the EU Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg, Sweden November 17, 2017. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS

Shona Murray Gothenburg

Tensions are growing between the Irish and British government over Brexit.

The Taoiseach has criticised the UK side saying it hasn’t 'thought through' how Brexit would work.

Mr Varadkar held a bi-lateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the margins of the EU Social Summit in Gothenburg where both sides engaged in a "solid exchange of views" according to a source.

"Time is ticking away and there’s nothing coming from the British" on how to solve the issue of the border with Northern Ireland, added the source.

Speaking before the meeting Mr Varadkar said "it’s 18 months since the referendum, it's ten years since people wanting a referendum started agitating, looking for one - sometimes it doesn’t feel like they have thought all of this through".

Read more: Ireland needs more 'clarity' on border before Brexit talks move on - Coveney

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an EU social summit for fair jobs and growth in Gothenburg, Sweden, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an EU social summit for fair jobs and growth in Gothenburg, Sweden, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)

The Irish government says it will not accept any physical infrastructure dividing the Irish state from Northern Ireland and is demanding that the UK give a concrete declaration this will be avoided.

 "We’ve been given assurances now for 18 months since the referendum that there’ll be no hard border in Ireland; that there’ll be no physical infrastructure; that we won’t go back to the borders of the past.

"We want that written down in practical terms in the conclusions of phase one" before we agree to moving on to the second phase, said Leo Varadkar today.

The deadline for “sufficient progress” on three key areas – the UK’s financial settlement, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border emerges in less than a month.

 Mr Varadkar said "if we have to wait until the New Year or wait for further concessions then so be it".

Mrs May repeated her promise that the UK will "honour our commitments" amid speculation she is prepared to increase the amount she is prepared to pay in the divorce settlement with the EU.

She said: "We look forward to the December European Council. We are continuing to look through the issues.

"I was clear in my speech in Florence that we will honour our commitments.

"But of course we want to move forward together, talking about the trade issues and trade partnership for the future.

"I have set out a vision for that economic partnership, I look forward to the European Union responding positively to that so we can move forward together and ensure that we can get the best possible arrangements for the future that will be good for people in the United Kingdom and across the remaining EU27."

Additional reporting from PA

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